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Buying land can be a tricky matter for many people, especially when they're first getting started. No matter how valuable a property may seem at the time, it may not take very long to realize there were more strings attached than you thought. But while there are a few red flags to keep in mind, you don't have to let your nerves get the better of you. Before signing a contract, here are a few facts to keep in mind.
Chances are, you've likely already confirmed that the land has been zoned for building, but what you may not have considered is the extent of the zoning laws. Building in certain neighborhoods may be difficult to do, depending on the size and configuration of the property. You also may want to consider how future laws will affect your building. For example, if the neighborhood is likely to pass new laws to protect the environment, you need to keep in mind the expense and effort of compliance. Zoning hiccups may not prevent you from buying the property, it can just help you prepare for what's ahead.
The State of the Land
If you're buying property, you need to do more than just look at the site. You need to know if the soil has been contaminated while the land sat vacant, how fast the tree roots are growing, and whether the ground can support certain infrastructure. If the roots are moving close to the property site, you'll need to factor in the cost of removal. Buyers should also consider how the sunlight (or lack thereof) will affect the eventual inhabitants. If there are sun-blocking hills near the area, it could significantly reduce the demand of the property.
If you're looking for a bargain, it's likely going to come in the form of a fairly undesirable neighborhood. Building in an area like this may pay off in spades, or it may end up being a major mistake. Some people will jump on neighborhoods that are "up-and-coming" only to find that the wind changes direction soon after buying. Or they find that it takes too long for the neighborhood to become valuable. You need to think about what you'll do if you can't sell for the price you want (e.g., rent, etc.). Not every developer can wait a decade or more before the market shifts.
Buying land can be a great way to both meet the housing demand in an area while generating profit for you. The key is to consider the most common scenarios (and problems) that may occur before moving forward.